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Showing posts from October, 2017

Urania II

While we still have our grand rail stations in America - Grand Central, Union (Chicago and Los Angeles), we would seem to have nothing like the above ground zeppelin hangar vastness of some of the great European rail portals.  So it is with Budapest's Keleti Station. 

Even in the midst of a journey of one's own, how peaceful it is to wander into such a barn of existential possibility.   To sit on a bench adjacent to one of the platforms as if to board some train to a nearby suburb or far-flung city.  To be still among all the slightly feverish coming and going.  Until you are reminded that you have not had a proper meal yet this day and it is high time you go and find a cheeseburger.   

Street scenes and images, Pest.

A lazy afternoon seems not out of place with the light if insistent rain.  But with the evening, the conversation must continue.  A panini restaurant along the Danube in Ujlipotvaros.   And then the Budapest Jazz Club.  As at the Liszt, you understand not one…


You learn, hopefully early on, that even in the midst of some great experience, there is abnegation, meaninglessness.  There is sadness where you are supposed to find only happiness.  Darkness that actually helps to define light, what have you.  Yadda, fucking, yadda yadda yadda.  
And so there are lost days, even autumn days aching with crisp perfection.  Even days when you have all the riches of a new city at your feet.  You don't sleep well and awaken late.  Are held hostage by banalities and taunted by the hieroglyphs of foreign washer-dryers.  By simple banking transactions which are rendered Byzantine in their necessary steps and several financial establishments. 
 But you are able to drift down to that nice stationers in tourist-thronged Belvaros.  Jump on the 2 tram which runs along the Pest side of the Danube.  Alight before the city's fairly stupendous Parliament which would seem to humble the Gothic pretensions of the English houses of parliament.  And you do see …


Budapest is grand, frequently beautiful and fortunately a bit dingy in the best of ways.  You are renting a flat on Csengery utca in a happening,  somewhat scruffy area of the city known as Erzsebetevaros.  Yes, it's a rather hip part of town these days.  Yet your courtyard building gives away no secrets behind its stern and weathered edifice across the street from a vacant lot.  The Airbnb flat within is outfitted with all the mod cons, yet the inner courtyard and stairwell could prove a credible location for a film decades if not a century past (replete with a stairwell and corridor to the street so dark of an evening they seem the perfect location for foul play).
A great city can paralyze with its choices.  So first, decide on a great building and go there.  The building in this case, the Geological Institute, designed by the great Odon Lechner, frequently called, if a bit reductively, "the Hungarian Gaudi."  Lechner a bright light in the branch of Art Nouveau known …